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New Data Offers New Hope in Battle Against Cancer

An estimated 13,000 Missourians are expected to die from cancer in 2020. (Pixabay)
An estimated 13,000 Missourians are expected to die from cancer in 2020. (Pixabay)
January 9, 2020

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- New data is providing fresh hope in the fight against cancer.

An annual report from the American Cancer Society reveals the cancer death rate fell 2.2% between 2016 and 2017 -- the largest ever single year decline.

Cancer mortality rates have decreased 29% since 1991, resulting in roughly 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths in the U.S.

April Dzubic, executive director of the American Cancer Society in Missouri, says progress is encouraging and empowering.

"I hope people continue to believe in the progress that we're making and find a way to be a part of it by encouraging people you love to get the screenings that they need and living healthy lifestyles," she states. "There's something that every single person can do."

The report cites reduced mortality for melanoma and lung cancer as a driver of the overall drop in cancer mortality rates.

Dzubic adds that advances in cancer research and treatment options also are behind the decline, as well as advocacy efforts to improve access to health care.

Dzubic notes that progress in mortality rates has stalled for three cancers that can be detected early.

"With breast, and with prostate and with colorectal cancer, those are three major cancers that we have screening tests for early detection, and colon cancer even prevention -- so we have the tools at our fingertips," she states.

Despite a rapid decline in recent years, Dzubic notes lung cancer still is responsible for the most cancer deaths. She says while smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer, she adds it's something that can be addressed.

"It's the biggest thing that we can actually control and make change of to impact lung cancer," she states. "In Missouri, we have the lowest tobacco taxes as a state. We are not funding our cessation programs the way that we need to. So there's a lot we can and should do in Missouri for a disease that is taking too many people who live here."

Roughly 606,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer in 2020, including about 13,000 people in Missouri.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO